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When Darroneshia Lott heard the crowd gasp after she crossed the finish line, she knew she must have run a fast time.
She just didn’t know it was national record-setting fast.
“When I actually saw it, I was stunned. It was crazy,” Lott said.
That’s putting it mildly. At the 2018 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships this Saturday, the Coker College senior dispatched the field, and the Division II 800m record, by finishing in 2:01.31—more than a second ahead of the all-time mark, as well as the next-closest competitor.
Remarkably, that time improved her PR, 2:05.41, by more than four seconds.
“It didn’t feel any different,” Lott said. “When we first started off, when Skylyn [Webb] was leading, I figured she was going fast, so I backed off a little. But once that bell rung, I got on her shoulder, and it was a hang-on moment from there. Just push. I would’ve never thought I ran a 2:01 had I not seen the time.”
But her elation was short-lived. A mere 20 minutes after Lott’s historic performance, she was disqualified for a lane violation.
“I went from crossing the line, and being so excited when they announced it… the thing I had just accomplished… I spent a whole year trying to get to that moment,” Lott said. “It killed all of my emotions. I thought, ‘This cannot be real.’ I was so overwhelmed.
“Later, I watched the race, and it was within the first 30 meters. I was on the curve—it wasn’t even time to break in—and I stepped on the line. I had literally just started. I don’t how I did it.”
Unbelievable. After further review Lott has been disqualified for stepping in another lane. You will always be a national champion to us Darroneshia.— Coker Cobras (@Coker_Cobras) May 26, 2018
Congrats on a great career.
Following Lott’s disqualification, UC-Colorado Springs sophomore Skylyn Webb ended up with the national title as well as the DII 800m record. She bested the longstanding mark set by Teena Colebrook in 1990 by 0.01 with a 2:02.47.
Lott, who also competed in the 1500m at the championships but didn’t qualify for the final, returned to her hotel empty-handed.
That’s where her emotional roller coaster had a few more loops in store.
While sitting in the lobby with her family, Lott was approached by Coker head coach Tom Scott, who asked how much longer she was planning on being there. When she said a while, he replied, “Good—because someone wants to come talk to you.”
In walked Janelle Perry, the reigning 100m hurdle champion from Ursuline College who just captured her second-consecutive national outdoor title.
“[Perry] said, ‘Hi, I saw what happened, and I don’t want you to leave without anything because that was a big accomplishment.’”
And just like that, Perry handed over her trophy.
Watch Janelle Perry gift her Division II championship trophy to Darroneshia Lott:
“She said, ‘I want to bless you with this trophy.’ And just gave it to me,” Lott said. “I was just stunned, crying all over again.”
When asked about her gesture, Perry said, "This is more than a sport for a lot of people, including myself. I know that if I was in that position, it would be hard for me to overcome. I wanted to give her something to hold onto, to remember how hard she worked to get where she is. She deserved much more than what I could give her, but it was my way of letting her know she inspired me and that she should keep moving forward."
Lott is eager to do the same for Perry someday.
“In the future, hopefully I do something big enough to be able to repay the favor since she did something so special for me,” Lott said.
She just might get her chance this weekend. The same day that she won and lost the DII national title, but still got a trophy, she also received an invitation to compete in the elite women’s 800m at the Music City Distance Carnival this Saturday.
“My coach told me, ‘Someone’s invited you to run again! Do you want to?’ And I was like, ‘Yes!’ I didn’t think twice about it. Then I had to sit back down—I was all emotional and crying again.”
Lott will toe the line against another NCAA 800m record-breaker, Emily Richards. She ran the fastest-ever Division III time, 2:00.62, at last year’s edition of the meet.
The strength of the field, which also includes Stanford alum Claudia Saunders (2:00.63 PR) and Agnes Abu of Ghana (2:00.87 PR), only further motivates Lott. Now that she knows she’s capable of at least 2:01 speed, she has her sights set on qualifying for June’s USATF Outdoor Championships this weekend.
“After that door closed, another one opened,” Lott said. “I’m going to make sure I take full advantage of that.”